It really takes something special for an emcee to remain relevant in the rap game for twenty plus years. For Chicago's Twista, that something would have to be his quick, highly lyrical rap flow that would twist the tongue of the average, amateur rapper. But even though Twista has consistently produced remarkable music throughout his career, his spotlight has occasionally been eclipsed by big money artists, media darlings and flavors of the month. Perhaps this is the reason he has named his ninth studio LP, Dark Horse, the name given to an unknown contender who emerges from obscurity to surpass the competition. He makes this point clear in his introduction by discussing that he has been underrated and proves it with excellent verses. In this track and for most of the album's first half, Twista confidently charges through with seemingly newfound high energy. For example, in "Devil's Angel," he plows through with forceful drive, rapping about his favorite gritty topics. It's obvious he is still about that hustling high life and that he still has a chip on his shoulder. Of course he is still smart too with his respectably wide vocabulary and how for example he inserts technical, scientific terms into his rhymes for "Beast." But what would a Twista album be without love? As if on queue, he passionately shows his romantic side on tracks like "Want My Love," the steamy "It's Yours," and "Gettin' Paper," a song which harks back to the old saying, "It ain't trickin' if ya got it." Also, be on the look out for a nice Tech N9ne collaboration on "Crisis," where the two emcees trade bars like two magicians seeing who can pull off the best trick. A little less impressive but just as important as the lyrics, the production strikes a steady balance between commonplace and cutting edge. Some of the beats are slightly derivative, but most of them do contain many unique flourishes and original loops. Overall they are indeed fresh for these days and times. The ironic thing is despite all his showing off and boasting, Twista does not come off as cocky because he backs up his promotion of himself with great material and his crisp, classic delivery. Behold the dark horse!